1. The US Justice Department okayed the merger between Live Nation (the world’s largest ticket promoter) and Ticketmaster (the world’s largest ticket sales company). Will this benefit the concertgoer? The DOJ and No Doubt think so; the Wall Street Journal is skeptical.
2. AMC ordered the pilot for Walking Dead, which Frank Darabont will produce, write, and direct. Adapting the zombie apocalypse comic of the same name, the channel, it seems, hopes to combine two of its most popular draws: horror and prestige drama.
3. After only 37 days in theatres, Cameron’s love-it-or-hate-it Avatar surpassed Cameron’s love-it-or-hate-it Titanic as the highest grossing film of all time. It’s catching up to Titanic quickly in terms of domestic sales as well, but things look very different when adjusted for admissions instead of dollars—currently, it’s #25 in the US.
4. As you get ready for Lost, a series of great links to amusing preparatory material can be found at Ramblings of a TV Whore.
5. In “Getting Past Viral,” Ivan Askwith offers a provocative call to disarm, and to move beyond sloppy notions of “viral marketing,” in a post at Big Spaceship’s site
6. In case you didn’t know already, a committee of non-humanist boneheads at University of Iowa are planning to kill the Film Studies and Comp Lit PhDs (well, the program, not the individuals … though maybe that’s next). Read more, and a nice testimonial to the program via Henry Jenkins’s blog.
7. If you have a problem, and no one else can help you …. The A-Team trailer is out, for all those 80s renegades and would-be 80s renegades. But we’re forced to ask, is there a statute of limitations on iconic father figures played that Liam Neeson is rapidly approaching (Obi-Wan’s master, Aslan, Ducard (a.k.a. the dude who trained Batman), now Hannibal, and soon to be Zeus in Clash of the Titans)?
8. Oft-injured Portland Trail Blazers center and generally large human being Greg Oden became the latest professional athlete to have his NSFW cellphone pics circulated on the innernette (Google at your own risk). The real story here is the wave of bizarre commentary from the sports writing community provoked by the pics.
9. Critically acclaimed 2009 horror film The House of the Devil receives a VHS release this week. (Granted, the VHS comes bundled with a DVD, somewhat like the trend of vinyl LPs coming with free digital downloads.) Is the videotape about to experience a revival? Or is this just nostalgia? Or merely a marketing gimmick?
10. Are digital music downloads too expensive? The music industry had a record-breaking year for digital music sales in 2009, suggesting that consumers are more than willing to fork over cash for “legal” downloads. However, a recent study from UPenn’s Wharton School suggests that the iTunes 99-cents per song model is overpriced and the industry would actually profit more from charging less. The industry, though, doesn’t seem convinced; Billboard has been quick to try and marginalize the research as, among other things, “strictly an academic exercise.”